BY JACK L. DAVIS
Jack L. Davis, Carl W. Blegen Professor of Greek Archaeology at the University of Cincinnati and a former director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (2007-2012), here writes extensively about a Greek couple, Anastasios and Ellie Adossides, once prominent and influential at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, but now largely forgotten.
If ever a husband and wife deserved special honors from the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (hereafter, the ASCSA or the School), it would be Anastasios and Ellie Hatzilazarou Adossides. Both Anastasios and Ellie spent most of their lives in the public eye, in the service of Greece, and, in his case, also of the ASCSA. Yet neither is commemorated at our Kolonaki campus, despite the fact that Anastasios and Ellie protected it, and he ultimately gave his life for the School. On Anastasios’s death in 1942, his dear friends from the Athenian Agora Excavations and Athens College, Homer Thompson, Lucy Talcott, and Homer Davis, wrote:
“There can be no substitute for the autobiography that modesty forbade [ Anastasios] writing, the book which might more than any other have interpreted to Europe and to America the Greece of the last quarter-century (The Philhellene 2: 3-4, pp. 3-5).”
The three continued: “The American Minister to Greece [Lincoln MacVeagh], himself a New Englander, has called Adossides the most conscientious person he has ever known, and claims that no New England conscience ever approached his.” From the Greek side, Eleutherios Venizelos said publicly of Anastasios that in his political career he had met very few men of equal courage and frankness.
Both Anastasios and Ellie led exciting lives in tumultuous times, lives of a sort that are difficult today to imagine. Anastasios, born in 1873 into a distinguished Ottoman family, began his adventures as a young man in Constantinople. His father served the Porte both as Prince of Samos and as Governor of Crete. His troubles began in 1901, when, while working as a journalist, he published under the pen name “Georges Dorys” a scathing biography of the Ottoman sultan titled Abdul-Hamid intime. Anastasios was home when a trusted Albanian servant informed him that police had surrounded the house. Dressed in the uniform of a French officer he managed to escape by a back door. Then, with help from relatives in the Russian consulate, he made his way to a French ship anchored in the harbor, only to learn there was cholera on board.
Paradoxically, cholera was his salvation. The police were afraid to board. When the shipboard doctor became ill, he assumed his duties, and, after quarantine in Marseille, he resumed his career as a journalist in Paris.
In 1907, Adossides married Ellie, whom he had met in Athens. Ellie had been born in Thessaloniki in 1878 into a noble family, was tutored at home, and subsequently was sent to school in Germany and Switzerland. Her own adventures began when her life became intertwined in the politics of Eleftherios Venizelos and his Liberal movement.